December 12, 2020

Beautiful day plus no local numbers equals just a brief update… but speaking of local numbers, they were way up at the dog beach we always go to.

If you don’t have a dog, it’s possible you don’t even know there’s a gem of a beach near the airport. Just north of the airport but south of the river, you’ll find McDonald Beach… and, on a day like this, it’s spectacular… a view that’s obviously shared by many others, given the crowd size… both people and dogs. If you want to see lots of dogs having the time of their lives, running up and down the paths, the more than 1km of beach, the water (which is of course fresh, not salty… and rapidly running, so clean)… head on down.

And, might I add… if you don’t like dogs, don’t go there. Do not go there for a quiet picnic and expect to not get overrun by dogs. If you find yourself shooing dogs away, you’re probably in the wrong place. Also, if you take your dog to a beach or park or wherever, and throw him the ball, don’t be offended if 10 other dogs go chasing it… and telling other dogs, “Hey, put that down, it’s not yours!” is unlikely to help.

Notwithstanding those two oddities, it was a wonderful day. The place is full of friendly people and friendly dogs. And, fresh air and sunshine, two commodities that scarcely make an appearance together this time of year and should be taken advantage of… especially the vitamin D aspect. Enjoy it while you can. And ugh, just had a look at the weather for tomorrow and rest of the week. Quick… there’s still a few minutes of sunshine left… in 2020.

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December 7, 2020

Numbers day here in B.C., which brings everything up to date… and not surprisingly, there are no big surprises. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the weekend numbers added up to… 2020.

Everything is proceeding with clockwork consistency… which means, around here, a continual case growth of 1.9% — a rate at which cases would double in about 37 days, which would be January 13th… which coincidentally is about two weeks after New Year’s, and three weeks after Christmas. Also not surprising is that Dr. Henry extended all present orders until January 8th… because, the fact is, they’re helping.

The collision course of this latest effort – these recent orders, which are making a difference — will run straight into the holiday season, and your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen. As we’ve learned, this virus doesn’t usually transmit from 10 people giving it to 10 others. It’s more like one person giving it to 20. That’s why the usual family holiday gatherings can be so risky. One contagious person ends up being patient zero of their own, exponential outbreak.

The vaccine news is good, but requires a reality check. The good news is that the first 250,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine will be arriving in Canada next week. Since it’s a two-shot vaccine, that’ll be good for 125,000 people. The vaccine will be distributed on a pro-rata basis, which should mean B.C. will get around 34,000 doses… good enough for 17,000 people. Obviously, that’s not enough to change anything; it’ll be months before enough people have had it where it could make a tangible difference.

In fact, if you were to get the vaccine tomorrow, what would change in your life? If you’re following the orders, your chances of getting the virus were slim, and now they would go down to pretty-much nil. But gatherings are still banned, things are still closed/postponed/cancelled, and you would still be wearing a mask.

We’re nearing the end, but we’re still at the beginning of the end. At least it’s in sight; remember, not so long ago, the hardest part of this was not knowing how long it could possibly go on… I likened it to preferring a prison sentence of known length; lock me up for 5 years, with a definite date when I get to walk free. I’d prefer that to being locked up, and having someone every day tell me either it’s time to go home… or not. There’s great comfort in certainty, and with certainty I can tell you – as fuzzy as it is presently – that’s a finish line on the horizon.

Also, with respect to the finish line of former Canucks anthem singer Mark Donnelly’s career… shoutout to Mark Donnelly, the sportswriter from Northern England who covers Sunderland AFC and who knew little about hockey or Vancouver… until his phone blew up over the weekend, over which he received over 1,000 messages on Twitter, both public and private, both praising him and insulting him. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know our anthem and can’t sing (or skate), so he won’t be filling-in any time soon… but he does wear a mask, and advocates for their use. Cheers, mate.

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November 16, 2020

Terrific news today regarding Moderna’s vaccine trial… an unheard-of efficacy rate of 94.5%. In the study, 30,000 volunteers received a vaccination. Half of them got the real thing, half of them got salt water. Out of all those volunteers, 95 of them got infected with C19. Of those 95, 90 had gotten the placebo, and 5 had gotten the vaccine. Of those 5 who’d gotten the vaccine, none had a serious case of C19. Out of the other 90 cases, 11 of them were serious, a number that lines up with what’s been seen with some consistency out in the wild. In summary, as expected with any vaccine… it doesn’t guarantee you won’t get sick, but it dramatically cuts down your chances. And, if you do get sick, it’s likelier to be a milder course of illness. And, added bonus, this Moderna vaccine doesn’t need extreme cold to be transported or stored. It lives at the same temperature (conventional refrigeration) as many other common vaccines.

It’s great news if it holds up, like nobody in that study suddenly gets super-sick and has serious side-effects or anything like that. On that assumption, Moderna is already manufacturing for production, and some of the public (those at highest risk) might be getting the jab by late December. Perhaps by spring, we’ll be seeing a much larger general rollout. If that’s the case, there will be one hell of a lot of incredible summer parties. I’ll be sure to host a few. You’re all invited. Well… most of you.

However… we’re not there yet… and, as every day goes by, we seem to be drifting further and further from it. We will ultimately hit that finish line, but the idea is that most of us get there, and in good health.

I’ve added a new row of graphs… a graphic representation of deaths, just below the corresponding case-counts, just to keep a little reality in the picture… because there is a double-edge to the sword that will ultimately slay this virus, and that is… that this vaccine’s existence, whether today or in the future, gives many people the idea that this is all almost over and we can just gently glide to the end, and it’s party time now.

This is exactly not the time to let our collective guard down. The virus is still out there, the weather is getting colder and we’re all going to be indoors a lot more. The steepness of case counts and death counts – see attached. The gently rising curve of death hasn’t hit the levels we saw back in April, but it’s not hard to see the trend. We saw how quickly it blew up last time; not taking the proper measures could lead to this getting far worse. It’s up to us to not let that happen.

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November 15, 2020

On the evening of March 21st, 2006, the B.C. Ferry Queen of the North departed from Prince Rupert, headed for Port Hardy. There is a tremendous amount of controversy as to what happened that night… books have been written, court cases have been tried, people have been fired, and… policies have been changed.

That night, thanks to the gross negligence of the two people on the bridge of the vessel – the ship’s fourth officer and the Quartermaster (who may have been fighting, or may have been having sex – either way, completely distracted), the ship missed the timing of an important maneuver, hit an underwater ridge of rocks that tore open the hull, and sank. Were it not for the heroic efforts of the Gitka’a’ata people in Hartley Bay, things would’ve been far worse. They took to the water in every boat they had, and rescued everyone they could. Unfortunately, 2 out of the 101 people on board were trapped, and are presumed to have gone down with the ship; their bodies have never been found.

One outcome of this tragedy was the policy change that made it mandatory for all ferry passengers to leave their vehicles during travel, lest the ship should sink and you be trapped.

The unlikeliness of that happening is difficult to overstate. BC Ferries provided more than 160,000 trips last year, moving close to 22 million passengers. Multiply that by 10 or 20 or 50 years, it doesn’t really matter… all you’re doing is changing your chances of dying on a ferry from one in a million to one in a billion or trillion or zillion. Whatever.

This policy does not sit well with many people, and I’m one of them. If I want to sit in the comfort of my car for the journey… maybe I have a crying baby or two, finally asleep in their car seats. Maybe I have a dog who’s cozy in his spot. Maybe I just want to listen to my music, read my book, play on my phone… in peace, in my environment. Maybe I have a broken leg and don’t want to be hobbling all over the place. Over the decades, I’ve had many reasons. More recently, one of those reasons was, of course, this pandemic… and B.C. Ferries, initially, agreed. In fact, they flipped the rule 180 early in this pandemic. Stay in your car. Don’t you DARE come upstairs, unless it’s a dire emergency. Sounds good.

Now, they’ve flipped it back again, at perhaps the worst possible time… and they’re being surprisingly adamant – arguably militant – about it. I really don’t get it. Persistent vigilance of the vehicle decks. Threats of fines or bans.

Since everyone *has* to get out now, it’s very crowded upstairs. The elevators are slow. The staircases are cramped. The cafeteria is full of people eating. The seating area is full of mask-deniers making selfie-videos of themselves showing how awesome they are, flaunting their freedom and laughing at all the people around them who are wearing masks and trying to socially-distance in an impossible environment.

A few things need to change here in B.C.

  1. This ferry policy has to go. In the midst of this pandemic, I don’t think I need to spell it out. If someone from B.C. Ferries can explain to me how staying in my car is more dangerous or puts me more at risk than the potential C19 exposure, I’d like to hear the argument. And I’m speaking for the benefit of others as well. What if I’m contagious and don’t even know it? You’re making me put everyone else at higher risk.
  2. B.C. is the only province not publishing anything C19-related over the weekend. No press release, no numbers, no update, no nothing. Everywhere else, whether they have over 120,000 cases (Quebec) or less than 20 (Nunavut), they’re keeping the information flowing continually, seven days a week.
  3. Mask policy – it’s high time they are made mandatory everywhere here in B.C., period. “Strongly urged” is no longer sufficient. Enough of the “we’re polite and we’ll do the right thing” mantra, and enough of the “people so inclined will ignore the rules anyway”. Just because the province doesn’t feel it can enforce it, it doesn’t mean you and I can’t. I’d welcome the opportunity to tell some mask-denier who taunts me with “Why should I?” with some sort of clout. “Because it’s the law”. “Because it’s an order”. Too much wishy-washy going on here, and the stakes are too high. It’s pretty clear what we’re heading towards, so let’s get ahead of it a bit. If the time for a mandatory mask enforcement is coming anyway (and it certainly is, or, at least, certainly should be), let’s just get on with it now.

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November 13, 2020

Out of the top 20 worst countries to be in, with respect to this virus, there is only one that can claim less than 100 deaths per one million of population. For comparison, as per the attached data, U.S. has 750 and Canada has 283.

But India, a country of 1.4 billion people and widespread poverty and overcrowding and nowhere near enough infrastructure to handle the medical catastrophe this could be if it got out of control — they’re doing surprisingly well. Their number is 93.

They are second in the world for number of total cases; only the U.S., a country with a quarter the population of India, has more. But while 250,000 (and counting) people have died in the U.S., that number is only 130,000 in India. Even Brazil, a country with less than one seventh of India’s population (and a leader as despicable as Trump), has more. So… what’s going on?

Perhaps it’s better testing? But it’s not. The U.S. has tested about 500,000 per million. India has tested 89,000 per million. And through that testing, the U.S. has learned they have 33,000 cases per million, as opposed to India’s 6,300. There are presently almost 4 million active cases in the U.S. There are less than half a million in India.

No… the answer is actually pretty simple. Following the rules…. and masks. There have of course been lockdowns and a level of somewhat sophisticated and targeted Unlocks in different regions… but what has made a big difference is national buy-in with respect to masks, where 90% of the population believes they should be mandatory. There is a fine for not wearing a mask, around $20, but 40% of people think that fine should be increased.

For a while, a couple of months ago, it looked like India might spiral out of control. Their graphs looked a lot like what you see here… except they managed to get it under control… and it starts with people doing their part.

On a related note… Diwali this year begins tomorrow.

Diwali is the 5-day Indian festival of lights. I’m not familiar with the intricacies and symbolism, but the celebration part of it… I think if you change Diwali to Chanukah and the 5 to an 8… it’s pretty close. The whole family gets together, you eat great food, you hang out. Good times. Chanukah is in less than a month. A few weeks after that, Christmas. Right after that, Kwanza. If none of that applies to you, there’s always Festivus.

Dr. Henry reminds me a bit of British policemen, before they were allowed to carry guns. “Stop! Or I will say ‘Stop!’ again!”. Well, there’s only so much she can do. Especially now, as numbers are rising alarmingly… either you get it or you don’t. Two weeks ago was Halloween. Here we are. Where will we be in two weeks? This isn’t rocket science. Cause and effect are taught in grade school.

Whatever you’re celebrating… you know what’s ok and what’s not. For your benefit, for your family’s benefit, for everyone’s benefit… be responsible.

COVID-19 Daily Report Graph for November 13, 2020

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November 11, 2020

On the 11th day… of my chronicling this pandemic… March 27th, 2020, I wrote this:

“…The thing to do is what you’re doing. Stay home. What else are you going to do, anyway… it’s rain for the next several days. Yay Vancouver weather!! That’s it. It’s not too much to ask. You’re not being called to charge Vimy Ridge. You’re not being called to storm the beach at Normandy. You’re being called to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. I have all the faith in the world you’re up to the task.”

The 11th day thing is a nice coincidence, today being the 11th day of the 11th month… and several hours ago, it was the 11th hour that marked the end of The Great War, in 1918. The War To End All Wars.

World War I didn’t end anything, for too long… because, at every level, history has a way of repeating itself. World War I ended exactly 102 years ago. March 27th was only 229 days ago. Wars keep going on; there are more than 40 active conflicts in the world today. And the advice/strong suggestion/orders from late March; we’re back to that as well. Things may have changed in the meantime, but we’re right back to it. Whether it’s 102 years or just several months; round and round we go.

Those 40 conflicts will all eventually end, or morph into something else. The same can be said for this pandemic. And, interestingly, it was that great pandemic of 1918 that helped end WWI.

Those heroes – the ones who actually did charge Vimy Ridge and storm the beaches at Normandy – they did it so that we, today, could enjoy the sort of freedom… that ironically allows us to be idiots who don’t wear masks and social distance. As we well-know, there are places around the world that aren’t so free, where the rules aren’t just suggestions; they are the law, and not following the law has serious repercussions. Dr. Henry has gone on the record saying there’s not much point mandating certain things, because people who are inclined to break the rules will do so anyway. This isn’t North Korea or China. You and your family will not be arrested, exiled or executed for walking into Costco without a mask.

But I don’t want to give too much attention to today’s Covidiots.

Today, let’s focus on remembering the real heroes of the past. Your Facebook feed is probably as full as mine of posts from friends whose fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, uncles, etc… gave their lives for what we, today, pretty-much take for granted. Look at their pictures. Read their stories. They are the ones upon whose shoulders we enjoy our freedom.

It’s important to remember that, often… not just once a year. Lest we forget.

COVID-19 Daily Report Graph for November 11, 2020

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November 1, 2020

When we get new local numbers tomorrow, I’ll update them, and the little graphs that go with them.

But for today, here are some almost-up-to-date big graphs that show a good representation of what’s going on. The one on the left is the daily new-case counts, layered by province. They all start from a common point; not in time, but when each of those provinces reached 100 cases, back in March or April… and then show what’s happened since then. The one on the right is the same thing, but graphed logarithmically with the top red national line removed. It lets you see the present trends, and how they compare against Time-to-Double lines, as well as each other. The concerning one there is Manitoba, whose angle incline is greater than anyone else’s… but, to be clear, all of them are angling up.

Which brings us to the more relevant point… of last night, and the videos surfacing of what looks like a good old-fashioned Saturday night on Granville St. I’m actually not even sure what venues on Granville are open; I thought they’re all closed for the moment… which leads me to ask an obvious question – what was the point of gathering downtown? Like, to what end? Where are you going or coming from? I don’t mean it to sound like I’m some clueless old fart; this isn’t a rhetorical question. Back in the day, where we walked uphill 5 miles both ways to-and-from downtown, there was a reason. There was a club we were going to or coming from… Luv-a-fair, Twilight Zone, Graceland… it’s a longer list, but the point is – that there *was* a point. “Hey, let’s just go stand around on Granville St.” wasn’t a thing. And in the middle of a pandemic?

“What’s the big deal?”, ask a whole bunch of self-centered clueless people on Twitter and Facebook and everywhere else. People want to party. You can’t keep people inside forever. It’s just a flu.

Those yellow lines on the graphs are B.C. The graph on the right more prominently shows the upward bend that began about a month ago. Note that it’s a logarithmic graph… so things are actually a little worse than how they look here. How much worse can it get? Look at the brown Manitoba line, and what it’s about to do. There’s every reason to believe that we’ll be following a similar trend if nothing changes.

After posing a few questions yesterday and now reading the answers, I realize (as expected) that I’m very much preaching to the choir. Most people believe in science, and the logical conclusions which follow from it. You’ll wear a mask when and where it makes sense. You’ll get the vaccine when it makes sense, ie, probably not right away until you’re convinced it’s safe and not rushed to the public, but certainly will in due course. I agree.

Yet – not everyone agrees… and, as it turns out, this is indeed the simplest way to think about this… if you’re repudiating vaccines and masks, you’re basically saying you don’t believe in the science behind it… which really means you don’t believe in science at all. You can’t pick and choose scientific conclusions simply on the basis of what you want to believe. And if you think the scientific method as a whole is some sort of flawed concept, then there’s really nothing I can say to change your mind.

The answer to the ridiculous rhetorical question of “So what?” will be answered in the next 5 to 21 days as that golden yellow line creeps upward and to the right, its angle of incline slowly increasing.

(notitle)

 

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October 31, 2020

Halloween on a Saturday night – that used to be the ideal as a young adult… get all dressed up in outrageous costumes and party all night and have Sunday to recover. So much so, that when Halloween fell on a weeknight, it was always a dilemma… which weekend, before or after, for the “big” party?

Well, 2020 sorted that out nicely… number one, the parties are tonight, and number two, there are no parties. Or, there shouldn’t be. Or, they should be outdoors, if anything. Fortunately, it’s a beautiful day, and turning into a beautiful evening, around here; gather outside (safely) to your hearts’ content. This will be the last year to enjoy fireworks (legally) – I’m tempted to go out and load up on some serious artillery, perhaps one last gasp of memories from many years ago when we’d do epic fireworks… the sort where, with a friend, we’d have them all laid out, with a synchronized sequence and Pink Floyd blaring in the background; fireworks so epic we’d be finding remnant litter (those little carton tubes and pieces of plastic) 6 months later in the garden somewhere.

Here’s my bold prediction…. by this time next year, it’ll all be back to normal. But I will throw in a little caveat that’ll be sure to bother some people… it *could* be back to normal *if* everyone buys into the solutions, both present and forthcoming.

As I find myself discussing these solutions, these days often with strangers, I’m going to throw out there a few questions… and if you can answer “that’s me” to any of these, I’d genuinely like to hear from you – because I’m gathering opinions and their origins… and I’d like to try to understand your mindset.

Are you anti-vaxx but think masks are a good idea?

Are you pro-vaxx but think masks are unnecessary?

Have you and/or your kids been vaccinated, but you’re considering not taking the C19 vaccine when it becomes available?

Have you never been vaccinated, but would consider the C19 vaccine when it becomes available?

Feel free to reply publicly and/or feel free to PM directly. Neither I nor anyone else will ridicule or belittle you; quite the opposite. I am really interested in hearing diametrically opposed opinions, and I’d like to discuss them.

The more “out there” these writings reach, the more I hear from people whose opinions make me think, “How can you possibly think that? How did you actually reach that conclusion?”. And I’m now well-aware that those are the exact same questions they’re asking of me.

I’m happy to provide my evidence and thought process. Feel free to let me (us) know yours.

(notitle)

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October 28, 2020

Many years ago, I was standing on the southwest corner of Georgia & Burrard, waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street (to the east) towards the Hotel Vancouver. There was a car sitting next to me, on my left, waiting to turn right, onto Burrard.

And while I was standing there waiting, the woman in the passenger seat contemptuously flicked out her still-smoldering cigarette, which landed right next to my foot.

The sheer disregard and selfishness of that action got to me in that instant. I simply reached down and threw it back in the car, helpfully adding, “I think you dropped this.”

Just as I did that, the light turned green, so I proceeded to cross the street, without even looking back. The car was stuck there, waiting for the stream of pedestrians to cross, so it didn’t move. But I did hear her shriek from behind me. I heard the driver screaming at me, too… “Hey!! What the f#@&!!”

The guy blared his horn a few times too, no doubt scaring and upsetting the pedestrians in front of him. I heard more yelling, but, as I said, didn’t turn around so didn’t really see what else may have happened. There was no sudden explosion, so I suppose it all turned out ok.

If that happened today, I’m not sure I’d do the same thing… it seems reckless. On the other hand, the blatant selfish entitlement displayed by that woman deserves some sort of response. “I’m going to smoke right next to you, I’m going to litter right in front of you, I’m going to throw something on fire at your feet… and I couldn’t care less about what you or anyone else thinks.” It’s brutal.

The usual saying is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but I prefer a slightly different version: “Don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t have them do unto you” – it’s a subtle (but very important) difference… which is that as long as what someone else is doing doesn’t affect you, leave them alone. You don’t want people telling you what to do when it’s none of their business, right? So respectfully… do the same for them. Either way, don’t impose your actions or beliefs on those who aren’t interested.

Which leads us to masks, and let’s set-aside the politically-attached nonsense that goes along with them. This is Canada, and there’s no political party implying that masks are a bad idea. And since around here we actually like listening to what scientists have to say – and they also happen to agree – let’s just go with the generally accepted proven fact that masks are a good idea.

If you are spewing cigarette smoke in my face (not to mention discarding its lit “delivery device” at my feet), let’s agree that it’s an offensive way to disrespect my personal space. Flip it around; even if you smoke, do you want someone blowing smoke in your face?

If that’s not ok, then why would potentially imposing your Covid-19 breath-droplets on someone else be ok? If you’re not wearing a mask while everyone else around you is, think about the message you’re projecting. It’s narcissism at its most fundamental level. Your “so what” and “who cares” attitude normally wouldn’t matter. As per above, if it doesn’t affect me, I don’t care.

Except, of course, in this case… it *does* affect me. Potentially quite drastically, whether me personally, or those around me who may be more vulnerable.

Dr. Bonnie is very gentle in her messaging. Be kind, be calm, etc. But I’m not Dr. Bonnie and I’m not so kind and calm, so I’ll put it in my own words: Don’t be an asshole. Don’t be a self-centered, entitled jerk. Don’t be a disrespectful clown who thinks they’re so awesome, flaunting their individual freedoms… at the expense of everyone else.

Yeah, on second thought… I’d totally throw that cigarette back into the car, onto her lap… if for no other reason than because not doing so empowers her belief that that sort of behaviour is OK. It’s not. It affects everyone around her. Sort of like not wearing a mask.

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October 20, 2020

So, I did something today I haven’t done in years… I voted. It was as seamless and easy as I thought, and as I promised recently. In and out in five minutes.

Watching these two elections is like watching the same sport, but in two totally different leagues. Like, there’s FIFA – and their World Cup, every four years… and the whole planet stops and watches soccer for a couple of months. FIFA… with its controversies and corruption and racist scandals. And, as usual, every four years, there’s a U.S. presidential election… and the entire world is watching… and it’s also full of corruption and racism and controversy.

Then, there’s the B.C. Soccer Association. I’m far more familiar with that one, having participated in it as a kid… and, of course, also living within the jurisdiction. And every once in a while, B.C. has an election, and nobody outside of our provincial borders cares. The rest of the country pretty-much couldn’t care less. And it’s all relatively peaceful and harmonious, just like playing soccer around here used to be… with the exception of an elbow to the head once in a while.

FIFA and the BCSA have a couple of things in common… one, they’re both soccer, though at significantly different skill levels. And two, they were both founded around the same time – ages ago, in fact… in 1904.

The two elections have exactly one thing in common; they’re electing people into leadership roles. And that’s where the similarities end.

At the local community center, no armed militia. No 10-hour lineup. Nobody intimidating me. Nobody setting the ballot box on fire.

As I said, take advantage of it. We are living within a framework of peace and freedom that’s rare; history implies us to be in a bit of a bubble around here, and while it lasts (hopefully for centuries, but, as we can see… things can fall apart pretty quickly)… let’s take advantage of it. Set an example… for yourself, for your kids… and in honour of those who went through a lot to make sure we’d have this right… and vote.

October 20, 2020 Graph

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